Ny'alotha the sleeping city is a place that is mentioned in whispers from the , as well as , , and Il'gynoth.
- In the land of Ny'alotha there is only sleep...
- In the sleeping city of Ny'alotha walk only mad things.
- Ny'alotha is a city of old, terrible, unnumbered crimes...
- You will rest in Ny'alotha.
- (When dying) N'Zoth... I journey... to Ny'alotha...
- (near Suramar city) This city of elves pales in comparison to the sleeping city...
- (in Stormheim) Do not be impressed by tall icons of the titans which stand here. The towers of sacrifice in Ny'alotha dwarf these pathetic temples.
Based on the whispers' explicit descriptions of the city In the land of Ny'alotha there is only sleep... it is possible that Ny'alotha is located within the Emerald Nightmare, but may have originated from somewhere on the world of Azeroth.
Ny'alotha may have some association with a wood or forest, based on the mysterious whisper The silent, sleeping, staring houses in the backwoods always dream... It would be merciful to tear them down... This whisper itself is a reference to the H.P. Lovecraft short story The Picture in the House:
Only the silent, sleepy, staring houses in the backwoods can tell all that has lain hidden since the early days; and they are not communicative, being loath to shake off the drowsiness which helps them forget. Sometimes one feels that it would be merciful to tear down these houses, for they must often dream.
A few more whispers mention dark woods, including one that may indicate the presence of an old god: The giant rook watches from the dead trees. Nothing breathes beneath his shadow. This likely means Black Rook Hold, though could also mean Karazhan. Another speculation suggests the area west of Deathknell, where there is a subzone named the "Whispering Forest": it has been said that back when the Highborne were traveling from Nordrassil, they briefly landed in Tirisfal, but had to depart when several of them were driven to insanity by an unknown force. They then went north to found Quel'Thalas. The "something incredibly unsettling" there was later revealed to be the C'thraxxi Zakajz.
Y'Shaarj also mentions the forest when wielding : When you'll walk among the black forest, you will see.
Beneath the sea
It may also be one of the sunken cities similar to Vashj'ir and under control of naga and Queen Azshara, hence the "city of old, terrible, unnumbered crimes...". Many things that rest under the ocean's surface are called "sleeping". This speculation is supported by the whisper At the bottom of the ocean even light must die....
Another puzzle box whisper states In the sunken city, he lays dreaming..., suggesting that if Ny'alotha is indeed sunken, a creature there lies dormant. It may even be an Old God, possibly N'Zoth: The drowned god's heart is black ice...
It could also be likely, that Ny'alotha is the city N'Zoth formerly ruled over before it lost its power. In Warbringers: Azshara Azshara can be seen floating above an old city ruled by a towering N'Zoth through a vision created by the Old God itself. Azshara makes a pact with the Old God to bring back its power and reign not as a slave, but a queen.
Ny'alotha may be the very prison of an Old God. Whispers talk about a creature laying dreaming at the bottom of the ocean, it is possible that this would be N'Zoth. Eventually, Old God minions would fill its prison and the prison would become known as Ny'alotha.
N'Zoth's former capital and prison
Ny'alotha may be both a prison and a city. Old Gods likely have limited mobility due to being bound to the planets they land on, and certainly would be hard for the titans and titan-forged to move without causing damage to the world-soul. Therefore the Old Gods were probably imprisoned in complexes built near or on the sites of their former cities. If this is the case, Ny'alotha is likely N'Zoth's city that was turned into its prison. It's possible it's located near, or even directly under, Nazjatar, which would be inconsistent as the naga city is supposedly in the Maelstrom area, where Y'Shaarj was, while N'Zoth's location has been depicted to be in between Zandalar and Kul Tiras.
The name Ny'alotha may be derived from Nyarlathotep of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Notably, one of the quotes ("city of old, terrible, unnumbered crimes") is similar to a line from the short story Nyarlathotep. It may also be a reference to R'lyeh, the underwater city where Cthulhu slept, dreaming, or Y'ha-nthlei, the ancient sunken city of the Deep Ones located just off the coast of Massachusetts.